Nov 302011

(This is the second of today’s two NCS reviews of A Fragile King. The author of this one is Islander.)

Much has already been written, including in our own articles at this site, about what prompted Greg Mackintosh to write Vallenfyre’s music and to bring his friends together to record it. But although the album may have been born from the death of Mackintosh’s father, A Fragile King is anything but sentimental.

At a time when the most popular death metal is all about flash and speed, sonic firestorms calculated to make jaws drop in wonder at the performers’ technical wizardry, Vallenfyre throw themselves back in time to recapture the gory glory of European death metal in its early days, when young dudes who would become legendary were prowling the musical landscape under names like Nihilist, Dismember, and Bolt Thrower. Communing with those grisly spirits, Vallenfyre have produced a master work of doom-shrouded, early-days death metal.

The album owes its success as much to tone as to style. The bass and rhythm guitar are tuned low and heavily distorted, producing that beautifully raw, crushing, gut-churning tone of giant chainsaws cutting through dense old wood. The higher-register (but still distorted) guitar leads and solos provide a piercing contrast to all that mammoth grinding — but the sound is no less ill. The beautifully crafted leads and solos writhe and squirm and bore into the skull like overheated brain drills, the insidiousness of radiation sickness compared to the blown-transformer buzz of the other stringed instruments, but equally deadly.

The percussion rhythms are also something of a throw-back. With minimal use of blast-beats and double-bass, Adrian Erlandsson enlivens the music with fills that are as interesting as they are remorseless (and, of course, we get a healthy serving of tasty d-beats, too). And then, there are Greg Macktintosh’s vocals . . . Continue reading »

Nov 302011

(This is the first of two NCS reviews of A Fragile King by Vallenfyre. The author of this one is TheMadIsraeli.)

If you didn’t already get the point from our numerous posts about these guys, they’re the shit.  Islander was going to review this, and I hope he still does. I’d hate to think I stole some fun from him, but considering that this is filthy, dank, dingy, doom-soaked, old-school death metal, it’s right up my fucking alley and I can’t resist writing a review.  If you’re a total whore for bands like Asphyx or Hail Of Bullets, as I am, you’ll find a comfortable home here.

If the banshee wail of feedback that starts “All Will Suffer” doesn’t give you a clue, its crunchy buzz-saw toned opening trudge of a riff will.  The entire song is a slog through disease-ridden, stygian marshes at its finest.  The first thing that immediately sticks out is a quality that makes for great death metal:  The ability of a band to insert subtle hints of melody into an otherwise atonal framework.  This is definitely one of the strengths that Vallenfyre has going for them in spades.  A Fragile King is loaded to the brim with memorable half-melodies, we’ll call them.

“Desecration” actually has a purely melodic outro, a mournful one with an almost funeral-doom character, in contrast to the song’s otherwise dissonant and sinister aura.  Other tunes like “Ravenous Whore” or “Cathedrals of Dread” bring the speedier moments of savagery, eviscerating everything above and below.

The riffs are solid, burdensome, and colossal in scope.  Listening to them almost produces a sensation of being drowned in a tidal wave of blood-soaked flesh. What also hooks me about this album is the absolutely immense Winter vibe (fittingly, I recently wrote a “Revisiting the Classics” piece on Into Darkness). “Seeds” really channels that feeling, but raises it (or rather sinks it) to an entirely new level of grim and morbid.  You can literally feel yourself subsiding into the floor. Continue reading »

Aug 042011

Adrian and Daniel Erlandsson are brothers, both of whom started playing drums at an early age in their home in Malmö, Sweden. Adrian went on to become the drummer for bands such as At the Gates, The Haunted, and Cradle of Filth, and currently plays for Brujeria and Paradise Lost. Daniel has been almost as prolific. His work includes drum duties on In FlamesSubterranean album, and he’s been the drummer for Arch Enemy since 1998.

By all accounts, both are considered very good at what they do. I’ve admitted before that I’m not a good judge of technical ability; I tend to fall into a state of slack-jawed wonder when I watch almost any capable extreme-metal drummer performing live. I can’t wrap my mind around the stamina, the physical coordination, and the memory skills required to play such intricate rhythms at such high speed for such a long time. But I do know what I like to hear, and I like to hear the Erlandsson brothers at work.

Not long ago, we featured drum-cam footage of Fredrik Andersson of Amon Amarth playing at the recent Tuska music festival in Finland. Now we’ve got drum-cam video of the Erlandsson brothers at the same festival — Adrian performing with the legendary At the Gates, and Daniel with Arch Enemy. I had fun watching these clips, and only a couple of flies entered my open mouth while I watched. I thought you might like this shit, too, so after the jump you can check out the brothers Erlandsson doing what they do best. Continue reading »